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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: September ::
Thirteenth Night
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1709  Monday, 1 September 2003

[1]     From:   David Frankel <
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        Date:   Friday, 29 Aug 2003 21:19:56 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.1688 Thirteenth Night

[2]     From:   David Frankel <
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        Date:   Friday, 29 Aug 2003 21:53:37 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.1699 Thirteenth Night


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Frankel <
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Date:           Friday, 29 Aug 2003 21:19:56 -0400
Subject: 14.1688 Thirteenth Night
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.1688 Thirteenth Night

>Jack Heller writes
>
>>This, from C David Frankel, is, of course, appropriate:
>>
>>>It might help, sometimes, to think of theatrical performance more in the
>>>tradition of jazz.  The texts exist, in their various formats, and
>>>people do with them what they will.  No performance, either on stage,
>>>film, or video, will ever be "authentic" to the "original" text and
>>>"original" performance.
>
>I left the original post alone, but I can't a second time.
>
>No, theatrical performance is not at all like jazz, unless you're
>speaking of commedia dell'arte or other improvisational forms. The actor
>in a standard play has only a very small amount of latitude. On the one
>hand, you aren't hired to re-write the text, but to do the play the
>director picked out and cast you for. On the other hand, your fellow
>actors are going to let you have it right in the tush if you start
>screwing around with your interpretation, much less the words and
>blocking, once you're into performance. They count on your character
>saying and doing certain things, and being in certain places, so that
>their characters can interact in the ways worked out in rehearsal. If
>you go all haywire, they will not be pleased.
>
>Improvisational skill is a separate talent from dramatic skill. Some
>actors have both, some just one or the other -- just as some musicians
>can play both jazz and classical music, but some only one or the other.

If this were true, all productions of a play would be exactly the same.

cdf

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Frankel <
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Date:           Friday, 29 Aug 2003 21:53:37 -0400
Subject: 14.1699 Thirteenth Night
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.1699 Thirteenth Night

>Don Bloom said:
>
>"However, sneers of the "Acting 101" and "Community theatre directors"
>sort aside, actors who go sailing off into flights of inspiration are
>the death of good plays. Of course there is always certain amount of
>latitude in interpretation, especially in soliloquies or in two-person
>scenes where the actors know each other (professionally) quite well, but
>you have to be very, very careful.
>
>If I have a line (as I currently do) that begins "Please don't scream at
>me," then the actress I'm working with had better have
>just been screaming.  Otherwise the line sounds stupid.
>
>Likewise, with stage movement you have to know not only where you're
>going but why or you'll get yourself into all kinds of tangles. The more
>people there are on stage the more important it is that everybody knows
>what the other people are up to. As an actor, you can make adjustments
>if somebody starts wheeling around out of position, but you aren't going
>to like it -- and neither is the director. If he or she has carefully
>built up a stage picture that keeps the scene from looking either
>unbalanced or static, then a lot of unauthorized movement by the actors
>is going to mess it up thoroughly.
>
>As to the stage directions: these are written by the author and are part
>of the play, part of the vision that he or she developed in the writing.
>As with any performance art, you can and should offer an interpretation,
>but when you start re-writing then you're getting into deep water
>indeed.  Playwrights don't like it, and with good reason."

Don:  Perhaps your notion of jazz is different from mine.  You seem to
think that nothing is fixed in a jazz performance (and, perhaps, that's
sometimes the case).  Jazz, though, covers an amazing varieties of
approaches to playing, and some jazz is even composed on paper (or at
least written down so others can play the notes) -- nevertheless,
performances vary, just as they do in the theatre.  Some plays (and
productions) contain tighter restrictions (if your partner isn't
screaming, then you've got a problem -- or a comedy) than others, and
audience expectations and tolerance for variation vary themselves.

But if all productions were the same, there would be little place for
discussion.

cdf

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